Friday, July 27, 2012

Hiking Saddle Mountain

Shortly after our family moved to Oregon we bought the book, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles - Portland by Gerald Butler, and made it our goal to hike through the entire book.

The girls are at soccer camp this week so Grant and I have been hanging out quite a bit.  We decided to use Wednesday to tackle Saddle Mountain, a hike I've been wanting to try for years.  I was expecting an epic adventure with panoramic views and this hike did not disappoint!  It thoroughly lived up to all the hype even with a cloud bank blocking the view of the ocean.

We dropped the girls off early and then headed toward the coast via beautiful country roads.  We stopped at Starbucks for coffee and I bought Grant his first caffeinated coffee.  What on earth am I starting?  We used our time in line to talk about how expensive coffee is, especially the fru-fru drinks that teenagers like.  Then we talked about tipping and how the tip needs to be factored into the expense of the drink.   Grant was all ears and listened intently as I taught him about the service business.  He couldn't believe how expensive tipping is or the fact that the baristas rely on tips as part of their income.  He wanted to know who else gets tips and kept saying, "Now that I'm making money with my job, I'm realizing how much everything costs."  His enthusiasm and blank slate brought me back again to the fact that we have to teach our kids everything.

Fancy coffee in hand, we headed back to the car and drove about an hour to the parking lot of Saddle Mountain Nature Park.  A sign at the trailhead, complete with a map, warned of the perils we could face ahead.  It read, "The challenges of the two mile summit trail include a continuous elevation gain, changes in the weather, and looser footing above the tree line.  For your enjoyment and safety, please keep in mind these guidelines during your hike:  Wear sturdy shoes.  Keep dogs on leash.  Elevation climb 1,630 feet.  No water provided.  Do not pick the flowers.  Stay on the trail."  Our hiking book gave it the most difficult rating and estimated it would take 3.5 hours round trip to complete the hike.

the first view point.  We hiked to the top of the tall mountain behind us.

Grant and I started off slow and steady and maintained our pace throughout the day.  We took the .2 mile view trail at the start and stood open-jawed as we looked at the mountain looming over us that we were about to hike to the top of.  The trail was not for the faint of heart.  We climb, climb, climbed the entire way, enjoying the parts of the trail that were in the thick woods and sweating through the parts that were fully exposed.

We chatted.  Snapped pictures.  Took breaks.  And enjoyed being together. Grant never complained once.  When we got to the saddle, we felt like we were on top of the world.  We got some gorgeous pictures, with the world below us.  And then we kept climbing to the top of the mountain.
maybe 1/3 of the way up the mountain

on the saddle

The last six-tenths of a mile were brutal. Above the tree line, we were fully exposed to the sun and were hiking on loose rock topped by a metal grate to help with precarious footing.  We huffed and puffed and dripped sweat as we slowly made our way to the top.  We passed two buff college boys during this time.  They were standing on the trail trying to catch their breath, sweat pouring off them.  Grant (11 years old) walked right past them and even offered up some "You're almost there" encouragement as we whizzed by them.  I was so proud.

We ate lunch at the top of the mountain, a slight breeze cooling us off.  The view was dizzying and we could see for miles and miles in every direction.  It was epic.  I could have stayed there all day, but we needed to get home so after thirty minutes, we headed back down.

all the views from the top.  So impressive!

The steep descent was more challenging than we anticipated and activated a whole different muscle group than we used to climb to the top.  Grant entertained me by quoting large sections of the movie Up word-for-word, complete with voices for different characters.  By the time we reached the car, our legs were sufficiently shaking and our souls were overflowing from our time together and with our Mighty Creator.
ice cream makes everything better
The ride home was quieter than the way out.  A quick stop at Dairy Queen perked us both up and we spent the rest of the drive rehashing our favorite moments of the hike.  We both agree - the view is worth the effort to see it.  So get hiking!

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